AACRAO Trending Topics Take Over #AACRAO18

AACRAO provides resources, guidance, and training on topics and issues that affect higher education. Due to cultural, political, or social shifts, certain topics emerge as timely and critical, requiring close, continued, and consistent coverage -- which might include legal updates, discussion papers, and workgroups. These are AACRAO’s "Trending Topics."

This year at AACRAO's Annual Meeting in Orlando, the following Trending Topics were front and center:

Read below for more information about how these topics were covered at AACRAO '18.

Disciplinary Notations

In an overflowing session room, #AACRAO18 attendees had a lot of questions for the Disciplinary Notations panel. Comprised of members of the Disciplinary Notations workgroup, Amelia Parnell (VP Research and Policy, NASPA), and William Gil, (Director, Government Relations, AACRAO) attendees received an update on the topic, a historical overview of the disciplinary notations, and were walked through the Guidance the work group released in June 2017.

Prompted by the mandates in Virginia and New York, the AACRAO recommendation changed from “Not recommended” to “Optional” in the 2017 release. Recommended for only serious situations defined by the separation of a student from campus, the workgroup hopes this change pushes institutions to discuss this issue and come to a decision that is best for their individual campus. As Parnell pointed out, “Length of time on the record and restorative justice are things to consider and have permanent/lifelong implications.”  

The work from this group is a precursor to the newly formed Criminal & Disciplinary History workgroup which will examine the use of and provide guidance on criminal record questions asked during the college application process.

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Displaced and Vulnerable Students

​Political conflict, natural disasters, and war will become ever more salient and should be part of a proactive plan at every campus to prepare for displaced and vulnerable students. Every day at #AACRAO18 presented an opportunity to truly understand the struggle of these students as well as an opportunity to create solutions on your campus that are malleable and ready for the next crisis.

In a session titled, “Education, Interrupted: Students in the Crosshairs of Crises, Policy, & Politics,” a panel of displaced students and the higher education administrators that work to support them discussed some of the growing concerns over refugees, displaced peoples, and at-risk migrants. The students related firsthand how natural disaster, social and political conflict, and immigration issues can have a tremendous impact on the ability of young people to begin or continue their education.

During a luncheon on International Day attendees heard from Tolu Olubunmi, the STEM degreed Founder and CEO of Lions Write. Olubunmi shared the story of how she learned she was undocumented and would not be able to pursue her dream. Subsequently, she has dedicated her life to pursuing a solution to our broken immigration system on behalf of people like herself who live with the fear of deportation at any moment.

#AACRAO18 attendees were also presented with the various international efforts aiming to ease the path to degree completion for students who have lost access to their credentials due to war, conflict, and/or natural disasters. NOKUT European Qualification Passport for Refugees, IIE Peer, and U.C. Davis Article 26 Backpack all aim to do one thing -- recreate and evaluate a credential record refugee students can use to regain access to Higher Education in the their new home country.

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The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

As a topic AACRAO has been following closely, it was no surprise that the #AACRAO18 GDPR session overflowed into the hallway and became an OnDemand Stop & Share. With enforcement set to begin May 25, 2018, and many campuses just beginning to truly understand the wide ranging effect of this regulation, Julia Funaki, Associate Director, AACRAO International, and Mark McConahay, Vice Provost and Registrar, Indiana University – Bloomington, calmed attendees fears by walking them through the regulation as well as the inter-association guide created to assist members as they prepare. This guide is a draft and open for member comments (member login required) until April 15, 2018.

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Gender Identity/Expression in Higher Education

Two institutions – Amherst College and the University of Alabama came to #AACRAO18 ready to guide attendees to a more inclusive campus. With national data behind them and on-campus tried and true practices under their belts, the presenters from these sessions provided practical and easily implemented policies and system changes your institution can use to become more inclusive. The practical suggestions covered topics such as:

  • How to manage student identity within the student record,
  • Issues surrounding legal name changes and policies to avoid students “outing” themselves every semester, and
  • How to create cultural change on campus.

These suggestion are similar to the guidance AACRAO members can expect from the Gender Identity/Expression in Higher Education Workgroup which is scheduled to release in 2018.

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Veterans Reporting and Support

With a newly formed workgroup charged with:

  • Assessing the feasibility of aligning the veterans reporting process with existing enrollment and compliance reporting business processes,
  • Identifying issues, requirements, and potential changes to Student Information Systems to facilitate improvements in veterans reporting, and
  • Developing protocols for data collection and reporting using existing tools, as well as anticipating the future state of the reporting process.

it is clear that AACRAO members are looking to improve and streamline the services they provide for their service member students. The #AACRAO18 sessions surrounding this topic met and exceeded the needs of attendees by covering credentialing, efficiency of GI Bill distribution and VA reporting, as well as by providing general updates on the work being done in collaboration with the National Student Clearinghouse.

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